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Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, the most densely populated and has the world’s highest per-capita income — that’s a lot of rich people in a very small space. Though it boasts an immense port, a world-famous casino and a surprising number of parks, there are few hotels in Monaco, and only four along the country’s 2.5-mile-long coastline.

One of these is Le Méridien Beach Plaza, Monte Carlo, where I chose to stay on my recent trip to Monaco to accept an award on behalf of a youth group in Ghana that won Peace Jam’s One Billion Acts of Peace Service Project of the Year. The hotel’s location, just steps away from its own private beach in the Monte Carlo district, is a real coup — and I’d recommend it on that alone.

Views for days from those balconies.
Views for days from those balconies.

I had previously stayed at the hotel in 2012, and got upgraded to a big suite. This time, due to the Festival de Télévision de Monte-Carlo, it was booked solid — but I was still upgraded to a beautiful beach-facing Sea View Deluxe Room with a balcony and a view of the Mediterranean. The 403-room hotel is a Starwood Category 6 property, with rooms starting at about €300 (about $335) or 20,000 Starwood Points; during my stay in June, my nightly rate was €330 (roughly $370).

The view of the private beach is a stunner.
The view of the private beach is a stunner.
The pool area has plenty of shade for hot Riviera days.
The pool area has plenty of shade for hot Riviera days.

Everything about the hotel has a modern feel, with lots of art everywhere. The big fist in the lobby was … interesting for sure.

Well, hello to you, Mr. Fist.
Well, hello to you, Mr. Fist.
When I said it
When I said it’s on the beach, I wasn’t kidding.

When I checked in, my SPG Ambassador had a bottle of Champagne and fruit in my room, and the hotel brought up macarons and a bottle of white wine, so it was over the top — in a good way — for a welcome amenity!

Champagne and fresh fruit is an excellent welcome gift.
Champagne and fresh fruit is an excellent welcome gift.
Yummy little macaron treats were waiting for me.
Yummy little macaron treats were waiting for me.

The room itself was not that large, but it never felt cramped — and it looked like it had been recently renovated.

A small room, but well-appointed.
A small room, but well-appointed.

The bathroom was fine as well, spacious and well-lit. The hotel has new Cinq Mondes toiletries, which smell much better than the old ones, which had a too-sweet almond scent.

An enormous tub and double sinks in the bathroom.
There was an enormous tub and a double sink in the bathroom.
The other half of the bathroom was a bit cramped, but having a shower as well as a tub is always a good thing.
The other half of the bathroom was a bit cramped, but having a shower as well as a tub is always a good thing.

The breakfast spread for Platinums was amazing! The property went above and beyond; everything was included, from my iced Americanos to sparkling water to hot items from the enormous buffet. It was a joy to load up each morning.

The breakfast spread was massive!
The breakfast spread was massive!
Hot items were also on the buffet menu.
Hot items were also on the buffet menu.

The staff was professional and accommodating. I hosted a large dinner at the restaurant on-site one evening on a back terrace of the property, and the staff was absolutely amazing. No detail was overlooked, and everyone had a wonderful time.

Everything was perfect for my dinner party.
Everything was perfect for my dinner party.

One thing you should know is that there is no Uber service in Monaco, and taxis can take up to three hours to arrive, especially on a busy Sunday. Given this obvious limitation, I found that the one big downfall of the hotel was trying to get Le Méridien’s doormen to call for a taxi at all; they were at times even hostile, simply refusing to call a taxi with the excuse, “Well, you’re not going to be here when they come, anyway.” I had to attend an event in a tuxedo and they basically just told me to walk there.

We also called the front desk to reserve a taxi for the airport in Nice the next morning, but they never made it. There was all this confusion between the concierge, who isn’t available at night, and the front desk, who didn’t leave a message with the concierge, so that was a little bit of a stressful situation on a travel day, which is a shame.

If you
If you’re calling for a taxi, you have time for a swim.

I would recommend either getting a driver, learning how to use the bus system or simply walking. I’d love Le Méridien to have a hotel car that could drive you anywhere within a short distance; it would be hugely helpful. Taxis are nearly impossible to come by, and so expensive; they start at 15 (about $17) before you even close the door, so getting anywhere can be quite a hit to the wallet.

That being said, my overall impression of Le Méridien Beach Plaza, Monte Carlo is that it’s a great property, a decent usage of points and comes with good SPG recognition. I’d highly recommend it.

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